Speeches and Presentations

Remarks: National 'Driving Behavioral Change in Traffic Safety' Summits

Dr. Mark R. Rosekind , NHTSA Administrator

Sunday, October 9, 2016 | February 5-March 1

Mark R. Rosekind, Ph.D.
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
February 5, 2016
Rancho Cordova, Calif.
As Prepared for Delivery

 

Chris, thanks.

 

And thanks to you, and to Maggi Gunnels and the members of the NHTSA team who have worked so hard to organize today’s safety summit.

And a special thanks to all of you who have given your time and effort to be here today. I’ll be honest with you – today is not going to be one of those casual, low-pressure professional conferences. Today we’re here to work, and work hard. And that’s because so much is at stake.

In 2014, 32,675 Americans died in traffic crashes. We announced that number in November. At the same time, we announced that, in the first six months of 2015, we appeared to be headed in the wrong direction. NHTSA estimated that traffic deaths in the first half of last year were up more than 8 percent from the same period a year prior.

That troubling estimate meant that we appeared to be going from several years of small but measurable declines in highway deaths, to a large, troubling increase. And so, NHTSA announced that we would hold a series of safety summits across the country to seek new ideas and new approaches to augment the tried-and-true safety practices that have made a difference for decades.

Today, here in Sacramento, is the first of those summits. And today, NHTSA is releasing new 2015 fatality estimates that underscore why we are here, and why we need the best ideas you can generate. Today, NHTSA is announcing its estimate of traffic deaths for the first nine months of 2015. And the numbers haven’t gotten any better. We estimate that through the end of September, fatalities were up by 9 percent compared to the first nine months of 2014.

That should worry all of us. As was the case with our six-month estimate, we can attribute some, but not nearly all, of this increase to more time spent on the roads. There is clearly something more going on. The data do not yet tell us with precision where this increase is occurring, geographically or demographically.

They do not yet tell us whether we are losing ground in protecting cyclists and pedestrians, or seeing an increase in impaired driving, or some other phenomenon, or all of the above. What we do know is that the already-alarming death toll on the roads is increasing. And as the nation’s guardian of roadway safety, NHTSA must to do something about it.

So that is why we have called all of you here. Many of you are veteran traffic safety professionals. You know that we have achieved remarkable progress in saving lives – including a decline of more than 20 percent in highway deaths just since 2000. You know what has worked over the decades in combating drunk driving, promoting seat belt usage, preventing distracted driving and more. What we need today is for you to channel all that dedication and experience into concrete ideas for how we can do what we’ve always done, but do it better, and how we can add new ideas to that mix.

Others of you are new to this topic. Maybe you work in another area of public health, or maybe you work on safety for your employer but have focused on your internal processes rather than the broader society. Maybe you work on safety in another mode of transportation. Perhaps your work to date on highway safety has been limited to honking at the guy in the car next to you who is texting on the highway. Whatever your involvement in traffic safety before today, we have invited you here because we think we can learn from your expertise and experience, and because we need fresh eyes to add to the perspective of those of us who have been looking at these problems for decades.

Our hope is that we can take the hours of discussion and hard work here today and at the other sessions around the country and distill that into a concrete program for action that can guide NHTSA’s behavioral safety efforts in the years ahead.

How much do we care about this effort? Well, as you know, Secretary Foxx plans to join us later today. You have seen over the last few months how dedicated he is to innovation in transportation, to game-changing technologies such as autonomous vehicles. But he’s not just interested in hardware innovations. He has asked us to look for innovative approaches to the very human problem of unsafe behavior on the road. And he believes in that effort enough to spend time with us later today. I can’t think of a stronger statement about DOT’s dedication to this task.

I’ll ask you to keep two things in mind as we move through today’s program. First, as I said, we’re looking for concrete action items. The more you can help steer us toward specific plans for improving highway safety, the more you will speed us toward our goal. Second: Never lose sight of how important this work is. 32.675. That’s not just a number. It’s moms and dads and sisters and best friends. Almost all of us have a story – a loved one we wish we could have saved. We need to save every one of those lives. And today will help us get there.

So, thank you for coming today. I look forward to participating in a lively round of discussions.

 

 

 

Mark R. Rosekind, Ph.D.
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Cambridge, Mass.
As Prepared for Delivery

 

Thanks to all the members of the NHTSA team who have worked so hard to organize today’s safety summit.

 

And a special thanks to all of you who have given your time and effort to be here today. I’ll be honest with you – today is not going to be one of those casual, low-pressure professional conferences. Today we’re here to work, and work hard. And that’s because so much is at stake.

In 2014, 32,675 Americans died in traffic crashes. We announced that number in November. At the same time, we announced that, in the first six months of 2015, we appeared to be headed in the wrong direction. NHTSA estimated that traffic deaths in the first half of last year were up more than 8 percent from the same period a year prior.

That troubling estimate meant that we appeared to be going from several years of small but measurable declines in highway deaths, to a large, troubling increase. And so, NHTSA announced that we would hold a series of safety summits across the country to seek new ideas and new approaches to augment the tried-and-true safety practices that have made a difference for decades.

Today, here in Cambridge, is the second of those summits. We held the first last week in Sacramento, where we announced new 2015 fatality estimates that underscore why we are here, and why we need the best ideas you can generate.

In Sacramento we announced our estimate of traffic deaths for the first nine months of 2015. And the numbers haven’t gotten any better. We estimate that through the end of September, fatalities were up by 9 percent compared to the first nine months of 2014.

That should worry all of us. As was the case with our six-month estimate, we can attribute some, but not nearly all, of this increase to more time spent on the roads. There is clearly something more going on. The data do not yet tell us with precision where this increase is occurring, geographically or demographically.

They do not yet tell us whether we are losing ground in protecting cyclists and pedestrians, or seeing an increase in impaired driving, or some other phenomenon, or all of the above. What we do know is that the already-alarming death toll on the roads is increasing. And as the nation’s guardian of roadway safety, NHTSA must to do something about it.

So that is why we have called all of you here. Many of you are veteran traffic safety professionals. You know that we have achieved remarkable progress in saving lives – including a decline of more than 20 percent in highway deaths just since 2000. You know what has worked over the decades in combating drunk driving, promoting seat belt usage, preventing distracted driving and more. What we need today is for you to channel all that dedication and experience into concrete ideas for how we can do what we’ve always done, but do it better, and how we can add new ideas to that mix.

Others of you are new to this topic. Maybe you work in another area of public health, or maybe you work on safety for your employer but have focused on your internal processes rather than the broader society. Maybe you work on safety in another mode of transportation. Perhaps your work to date on highway safety has been limited to honking at the guy in the car next to you who is texting on the highway. Whatever your involvement in traffic safety before today, we have invited you here because we think we can learn from your expertise and experience, and because we need fresh eyes to add to the perspective of those of us who have been looking at these problems for decades.

Our hope is that we can take the hours of discussion and hard work here today and at the other sessions around the country and distill that into a concrete program for action that can guide NHTSA’s behavioral safety efforts in the years ahead.

I’ll ask you to keep two things in mind as we move through today’s program. First, as I said, we’re looking for concrete action items. The more you can help steer us toward specific plans for improving highway safety, the more you will speed us toward our goal. Second: Never lose sight of how important this work is. 32.675. That’s not just a number. It’s moms and dads and sisters and best friends. Almost all of us have a story – a loved one we wish we could have saved. We need to save every one of those lives. And today will help us get there.

So, thank you for coming today. I look forward to participating in a lively round of discussions.

 

 

 

Mark R. Rosekind, Ph.D.
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Atlanta
As Prepared for Delivery

 

Thank you.

 

Thanks to all the members of the NHTSA team who have worked so hard to organize today’s safety summit.

And a special thanks to all of you who have given your time and effort to be here today. I’ll be honest with you – today is not going to be one of those casual, low-pressure professional conferences. Today we’re here to work, and work hard. And that’s because so much is at stake.

In 2014, 32,675 Americans died in traffic crashes. We announced that number in November. At the same time, we announced that, in the first six months of 2015, we appeared to be headed in the wrong direction. NHTSA estimated that traffic deaths in the first half of last year were up more than 8 percent from the same period a year prior

That troubling estimate meant that we appeared to be going from several years of small but measurable declines in highway deaths, to a large, troubling increase. And so, NHTSA announced that we would hold a series of safety summits across the country to seek new ideas and new approaches to augment the tried-and-true safety practices that have made a difference for decades.

Today, here in Atlanta, is the fourth of those summits. We held the first summit earlier this month in Sacramento, where we announced new 2015 fatality estimates that underscore why we are here, and why we need the best ideas you can generate.

In Sacramento we announced our estimate of traffic deaths for the first nine months of 2015. And the numbers haven’t gotten any better. We estimate that through the end of September, fatalities were up by 9 percent compared to the first nine months of 2014.

That should worry all of us. As was the case with our six-month estimate, we can attribute some, but not nearly all, of this increase to more time spent on the roads. There is clearly something more going on. The data does not yet tell us with precision where this increase is occurring, geographically or demographically.

They do not yet tell us whether we are losing ground in protecting cyclists and pedestrians, or seeing an increase in impaired driving, or some other phenomenon, or all of the above. What we do know is that the already-alarming death toll on the roads is increasing. And as the nation’s guardian of roadway safety, NHTSA must to do something about it.

The 2017 budget President Obama proposed last week helps us do so. It will help us continue making vehicles safer by strengthening our 5-Star Ratings program and our ability to find and address safety defects. It will help us strengthen our behavioral safety efforts and expand into emerging safety issues such as drug-impaired driving. It will also devote $200 million in 2017, and nearly $4 billion over 10 years, to speed automation technologies that can help address behavioral issues.

But in all these areas and more, we need your help, and that is why we have called all of you here. Many of you are veteran traffic safety professionals. You know that we have achieved remarkable progress in saving lives – including a decline of more than 20 percent in highway deaths just since 2000. You know what has worked over the decades in combating drunk driving, promoting seat belt usage, preventing distracted driving and more. What we need today is for you to channel all that dedication and experience into concrete ideas for how we can do what we’ve always done, but do it better, and how we can add new ideas to that mix.

Others of you are new to this topic. Maybe you work in another area of public health, or maybe you work on safety for your employer but have focused on your internal processes rather than the broader society. Maybe you work on safety in another mode of transportation. Perhaps your work to date on highway safety has been limited to honking at the guy in the car next to you who is texting on the highway. Whatever your involvement in traffic safety before today, we have invited you here because we think we can learn from your expertise and experience, and because we need fresh eyes to add to the perspective of those of us who have been looking at these problems for decades.

Our hope is that we can take the hours of discussion and hard work here today and at the other sessions around the country and distill that into a concrete program for action that can guide NHTSA’s behavioral safety efforts in the years ahead.

I’ll ask you to keep two things in mind as we move through today’s program. First, as I said, we’re looking for concrete action items. The more you can help steer us toward specific plans for improving highway safety, the more you will speed us toward our goal. Second: Never lose sight of how important this work is. 32.675. That’s not just a number. It’s moms and dads and sisters and best friends. Almost all of us have a story – a loved one we wish we could have saved. We need to save every one of those lives. And today will help us get there.

So, thank you for coming today. I look forward to participating in a lively round of discussions.